Hootenany 2001 leaves listeners with a full plate
Hidden Valley, Cal., July 7, 2001
HIDDEN VALLEY, CA - It was heartening to see hometown favorites Social Distortion headlining this year's annual roots rock - with the emphasis on rock - event, but while this band's raspy power-punk closed out this eclectic event with a bang, the most rewarding moments of this concert came much earlier in the day.
Lee Rocker was advertised as having former Elvis guitarist Scotty Moore along for his performance, but Moore couldn't make it due to illness. Instead, English pub rocker -- and former Stray Cat producer -- Dave Edmunds was aboard.
After opening with an acoustic guitar blues instrumental, Edmunds then played the Nick Lowe-penned "I Knew The Bride When She Used To Rock & Roll." But when he went into another instrumental, Mason Williams' "Classical Gas,' it came as a total surprise. Although Edmunds pulled it off perfectly, it was neither roots, nor rock. Better by far was his electrified performance of "Mystery Train" along with Rocker's band.
For the second year in a row, X's John Doe performed at the Hootenanny without his famous LA punk band mates. Last year he was a part of The Knitters, while this year he was heading up his own band. Nevertheless, even on his own material, such as with "Beat-Up World" from his latest "...Freedom Is" album, he couldn't help sounding like his old socially aware band. And as a treat, he even tore through a credible version of X's tribal "Hungry Wolf."
Speaking of famous LA bands, The Blasters were also back again this year. Their set was almost exactly the same one as last year's, albeit a tad shorter, and was highlighted by raving versions of "Marie Marie" and "So Long Baby Goodbye." It was also a good thing that lead singer Phil Alvin kept his political thoughts to himself, and instead let the music do all the talking this time out.
Other notable appearances included James Intveld's hardcore country, Big Sandy and His Fly Rite Boys' jumping rockabilly blues and The Paladins own brand of rockabilly - with a little surf action added for flavor.
The biggest name on this year's bill was Chuck Berry. He has a reputation for ramshackle performances, and his turn here did nothing to change such lowered expectations. Nevertheless, he played many of his biggest hits, such as "Sweet Little 16" and "Johnny B. Goode," with real feeling, often slowing down tempos to put extra emphasis on the lyrics.
The Rev. Horton Heat and The Supersuckers were also near the top of the bill, but both acts came off as smirk-y, rather than sincere. For Heat, a half hour was not nearly long enough to work up a good sweat, and The Supersuckers, with their bawdy metal, overstayed their welcome.
The Hootenanny is like one long jam-packed buffet: If you're selective in you lunch choices, you can come away with quite a fulfilling plate of nutrition.